Tag Archives: W_Circuit

Rob & Amy Trek in Torres del Paine & Ushuaia

Rob and Amy returned in January 2015 from a Trek in Torres del Paine followed by some excursions in Ushuaia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

You guys put together a fabulous trip for us in Patagonia and your recommendations for Ushuaia in particular were spot on.

I don’t think you could or should do anything differently – your communication is perfectly clear and timely and both of your partners receive our highest marks.  By all means I would recommend you to friends and family.

How was your W Trek in Torres del Paine

The W Trek was exactly as promised.  The self-guided version was great for us and was well explained by your partners at the start when they met us at their office in Puerto Natales.  Moreover, they were able to secure dinner reservations for us the night before our trek – New Years Eve – at a fantastic restaurant in Puerto Natales – that’s service!

[Read Sally’s top picks for dining out in Patagonia]

How was the Accommodation during your W Trek?

Our accommodations in Puerto Natales (Amerindia) were perfect, and the refugios on the trek exceeded our expectations.  How did we get a double room for our last night?  So awesome!  The cabin upgrade was so worthwhile. In comparing the price of our trip with other travellers – we got the better deal!

What was the highlight of your W Trek?

Well, crystal clear weather at the Torres – 2 hours of brilliant blue sky while we lounged by the lake!  Wow!

Do you have any tips for other travellers planning a trip?

Use Swoop and their partners in Chile! The W-trek is not a wilderness experience as there are lots of people but the scenery is breath-taking.

How was your day trip in Ushuaia?

Swoop’s partners in Ushuaia did a great job on our day trip. The guide was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, geology and history. It was a little expensive for a day hike but this company has it dialled in!

Did you visit anywhere else during your trip?

We visited El Calafate and did the Big Ice trek on Perito Merino. We also spent 8 days on the Valvilov in Antarctica and finished off with 2 days in Buenos Aires.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

We wish we had made time for FitzRoy – next trip – and, we will contact you guys before we go.

We might have added an extra day onto the W-Trek but it was totally doable in the 4-night time frame you arranged.

Everything else – perfect – thanks you guys! And, thanks for the buffs!  We are wearing them daily back here in Durango, CO  USA!

Cecile’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Cecile returned in January from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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How was your experience of booking with Swoop?

I was very happy that I planned my trip through Swoop Patagonia and their partners. It was very useful to go through Swoop, as it can be complex booking refugios yourself, particularly when you need certain refugios on certain dates, and in theory there is no availability for 3 consecutive nights (at least I didn’t find any through other companies). Booking with Swoop is also particularly useful for people who have  limited time, it is helpful to have the trip planned by someone else.

How were Swoop’s partners in Chile?

Swoop’s partners who organised my W Trek were very patient leading up to the trip. They answered all of my questions in no time, which was amazing. It was also great that although my plane only landed in Punta Arenas on the 23rd at 5pm, they found a way for me to start the Trek on the 24th at 7am. I didn’t have a guide for this trip, but Johanna waited for me until late in the night to give me my vouchers.

What was the highlight of the trip?

Seeing the sunrise from Chileno on the 25th of December  was my absolute highlight (see picture) although I should have brought my sleeping bag, it was freezing!

Do you have any tips for people planning a trip?

I found it very useful to have an external battery for my camera, a rope to hang my wet clothes on, and waterproof pants and walking sticks. The headband Swoop sent me is also a great item to take with you! Also, the offer of cheap hostels in Puerto Natales is quite wide, so it is fairly easy to go ahead and book these for yourself.

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Fiona’s Trip to Torres del Paine

Fiona & Stephen returned in January 2014 from a 4 night stay at a luxury lodge in Torres del Paine, from where they took various excursions into the National Park. Here they tell us about their experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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What was the highlight of your trip?

This is such a difficult question to answer. The whole experience was incredible from start to finish. Of our whole 5 week trip from Buenos Aires down to Patagonia, the Patagonian experience certainly takes the crown.

The obvious things that come to mind are the first glimpse of Lago Gray, hearing the thunderous roar of a glacier calving overhead in the French Valley, standing in front of the Towers of Paine and seeing the elusive Puma on our evening drive home after our final hike in the national park.

There were so many more beautiful moments that are less spectacular but equally inspiring. The milky green colours of the lakes, the fiercely invigorating Patagonian winds in your face, the delicate flowers. The landscape delights with an ever-changing presence as your walk, like moving from Mordor to Narnia to the land before time. We are so grateful that we have been lucky enough to make the trip and experience this wondrous place.

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Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Chile or Argentina on your trip?

We spent time in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Bariloche and el Calafate before we ventured across the border and into Chile. We loved Bariloche, and spent 5 days hiking, biking, kayaking and eating chocolate of course!

Following our time in Torres del Paine we crossed back into Argentina and headed to El Chalten. We were so blessed with the weather and spent two amazing days hiking here. The spectacular hike to Laguna de los Tres was a really a major highlight for us. I couldn’t recommend making El Chalten a must visit place if your down south.

How well did Swoop Patagonia do helping you plan your holiday, and finding the best trip for you?

 We have to give our whole hearted thanks to Luke and Chloe and the team at Swoop for their expertise, time, and advise both in the planning stages of our trip, and while we were travelling. We are so grateful for their enthusiasm and love of Patagonia and their practical advice. I don’t think we could have planned such a successful trip without their expertise.

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How was your stay at the Luxury Lodge in Torres del Paine?

The hotel was a real treat for us, and totally worth it. The accommodation, staff, food, guides and location could not be topped. We met some amazing people from all walks of life staying in the hotel and really enjoyed sharing their company on the hikes. The staff including everyone from the drivers to the guides were so fantastic – fun friendly and really knowledgeable, and all were totally in love with Patagonia, and so enthusiastic and proud of their homeland. They made superb hiking partners and we loved being in their company. We were also blessed with the most beautiful weather during our whole trip and of course this was a major plus. The groups were small, and the food on our hikes was as tasty as the meals at dinner. I hope that some day we find ourselves back in Tierra Patagonia.

Do you have any tips for other people who are planning a trip?

Tip number one – Talk frequently with the team at Swoop! They guided us in our every move when planning the trip and the advice was spot on.

Tip number two – Just do it – go there! And enjoy.

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Peter’s Multi Activity W Trek

Peter returned in January from a Multi Activity Trip in Torres del Paine where he hiked, biked and kayaked the W Trek. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had a great trip and everything worked really well’

How did you find Swoop and our partners?

I would recommend both Swoop and your partners. I thought your partners in Torres del Paine were great and definitely went beyond the extra mile to help! Their staff were excellent, especially in Chile- super enthusiastic and helpful.

What did you think of your itinerary, is there anything you would change about it?

The Mountain Biking was harder than we expected, and actually, for the non-mountain biker, was probably more of a day trip.

The walking part of the trip was brilliant – fantastic advice –  we could not fault this part of the trip. I only wish that day 2 could have been longer so that we could have made the whole of the French Valley on day 3.

The boat trip at the end of day 3 was a tight squeeze – it might be worth warning people to arrive early – we nearly didn’t get on and it would have been another hour’s wait until the next one!

How was the accommodation on your trip?

We managed on two nights out of three in the refugios once we were there. Lago Grey hotel was a bit chaotic – they kept trying to charge us for pre-booked meals and refused to provide lunch boxes as we had not booked excursions – so bit of a shambles! The hotel itself was lovely, and the staff were very friendly, just rather confused!

What was the highlight of your trip?

Our highlight was the hike on day 1 up to Torres Del Paine – this was on my bucket list!!

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Froilan’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Froilan returned in January from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop Patagonia and our partners…

‘I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia’

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How was your experience of Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop was very responsive, I was very well accommodated and advised even with my “last minute” plans, and the wind-stopping snood sent to me before my departure was a really nice surprise.

I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia.  In fact, since my return, people have been asking how I organized my trip and I have simply told them to Google Swoop Patagonia and that they would not be disappointed.

How was your W Trek and Swoop’s partners who ran it?

My W Trek was absolutely incredible. Our guides, Carlos and Omar were very knowledgeable, nice and really understanding of the needs of each member of the group. They even added avocados to spice up our daily lunch sandwiches (which, as we understood, were fairly plain as they were initially provided by the refugios).

Swoop’s partners had everything planned for us ahead of time, lodgings were more than adequate and the guides were top-notch.  They knew more or less when the weather would be changing (an incredible skill in a place like Patagonia) and we had ample time to reconfigure our clothing to be comfortable long before the change happened. I’m sure my travel companions definitely appreciated it as well. The group itself was a very fun one, and we had a great time chatting away and snapping pictures from the beginning till the end of the trek.

I honestly don’t think there’s really anything to change about Swoop or their partners who ran the trek.

What were the highlights of your trip?

The highlights of my trip definitely had to be the Torres and Grey Glacier, but overall I was very happy with the itinerary that Swoop and their partners set up for us.

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Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?.Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

If there was anything I would have changed about my trip, it would have been to extend it to include Argentina (El Chalten and the surrounding area, but also Buenos Aires)

My biggest tip for people planning to travel to Patagonia: go with Swoop!  And If they plan to do the W as part of a bigger itinerary and definitely need to have bigger luggage, I would suggest they leave the rest of their luggage in Puerto Natales and take a light backpack, 25-30 litres max (3-4 days worth of clothing, and do laundry in the refugios when possible).  They will have a more enjoyable time being lighter and more mobile.  Oh, and don’t forget your camera.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia?

Unfortunately, being short on time, I did not manage to visit any other places while in Patagonia.  The up side is that it gives me a very good excuse to come back.

‘Thank you very much for the incredible service and the great experience.’

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Nicole’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Nicole returned in December from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trek and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Tiptop! We did not stop raving about you during the hike and how bloody helpful you all are and integral to getting my head around Patagonia from home.

I wish I could provide some constructive criticism here, but not only do I have no recommendations for improvement, I actually feel that you went out of your way on all aspects.

I certainly have and will continue to recommend you to family and friends without a doubt.

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine who arranged your W Trek?

Fabulous! Our guide Viktor on the W Trek was 10/10. The remoteness and lack of overt tourism at the Torres del Paine National Park was a real treat, especially after travelling North from there.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

Yes, we travelled to El Chalten, Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Salta and JuJu and now find ourselves in Tupiza about to do a 4 day Uyuni tour then to La Paz and Lake Titicaca, Then back to Chile for a 3 day yoga retreat and then home.

Rick’s Gorra Blanca Ascent & Avid Hikers Circuit

Rich returned in December from an ascent of Gorra Blanca in Los Glaciares, followed by our Avid Hikers Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia and our partners…

How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

I have visited and guided in Patagonia on 13 or more occasions over the last 20 plus years… I love it!

Having already asked a good friend of mine (from one of the biggest and most expensive trekking companies) about the possibility of doing hiking in El Chalten with no reply, I accidentally stumbled across Swoop Patagonia during a Google search. They immediately resonated with me, particularly given the feedback from previous customers on their blog, and the fact that they specialise in, and seemed extremely knowledgeable about all things Patagonia.

My experience post trip does indeed confirm that Swoop Patagonia is now my one-stop-shop for locating and linking me to suitable outfitters in Patagonia, so much so that I have already recommended them to my older brother over and above the expensive (non-responsive) opposition that thought it had the lion’s share of the market…!

Correspondence with Swoop was and is very fast and accurate, and saved me a lot of worry about things like connections, transfers, and what would be the best ‘tailored’ experience for me.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Chalten for the Gorra Blanca Ascent?

After a delayed arrival in Chalten due to some problems getting baggage (nothing to do with Swoop) I met up with Swoop’s partners in Chalten who were a breath of fresh air…

These ‘new’ small outfitters seemed very knowledgeable about the Fitzroy area and the appropriateness of difficulty grades and things to do. The team, probably had no idea that I had a long association with and knowledge about the area, already knowing what I wanted and where I wanted to go.  Their suggestion of attempting Gorra Blanca (a mountain that I had passed many times before, but never considered) was novel, and in the time I had available, pretty spot on.

I feel that these outfitters have a great and expanding client base. I will, and have already, crowed about their services – again over and above the other trekking company I had previous connections with.

The guide also had no idea of my background and capabilities, but we soon sorted that out and bonded extremely well. I have to say I was impressed (and I’m not easily impressed) with his professionalism and decision-making.  I was not the ‘normal’ client, and with potentially intimidating credentials he made safe and responsible decisions – looking after both our wellbeing. We did in the small amount of time available the most humanly possible…  and they even turned on the ‘good’ weather and stopped the winds and rain.  I will be writing separately and sending a good show award type letter separately.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine for the Avid Hikers Circuit?

Laura and her team in Torres del Paine were likewise very responsive to e-mails and the organising of bus connections and all my detailed niggling.  I reckon that I’m a pain in the arse as a client and I wanted (demanded) that things had to be spot on because of my tight itinerary revolving around my Antarctic climbing trip.

They suggested a modified, more interesting, and not so often undertaken variation on the famous W Circuit. This proved to be a winner and again the weather Gods shone on the team and trip.

The guide and guide and porter provided were likewise very capable and professional. The small team of 4 (2 clients and 2 staff members) quickly bonded.

The itinerary, food, and mixture of tent versus Refugio was also an up-market and relaxing way to go. Of course I will be recommending this organisation and the guides here also.

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Tina & Steve’s W Trek & Huemul Circuit

Tina and Steve returned in November from a W Trek in Torres del Paine and Huemul Circuit in Los Glaciares National Park. Here they tell us abut their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners….

‘I would unhesitatingly use these agents again if we return to Patagonia and we have already been recommending Swoop very highly to friends who are contemplating a trip. Very many thanks.’

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Our trip started with a visit to Swoop’s office in Bristol where we met Luke and some of the team. Other than having heard a bit about Torres del Paine from a friend, we had no real knowledge of the region or what we could do in the short time available to us. During that visit and over the course of subsequent e-mails Luke, and the Swoop Team, helped us come up with a plan to squeeze plenty of activity into our two-week timeframe.

Torres del Paine National Park

We started in Torres del Paine where we did a Self-Guided W Trek organised by Swoop’s recommended partners in Puerto Natales. We had just one night in Puerto Natales at the start after a 36-hour journey from Devon, with an early transfer next day into the park to begin the walk.

The walking was great, very mixed terrain, and hugely changeable weather; we really did get everything from hot sun to snow, invariably accompanied by the notorious wind; luckily the rain was largely overnight. It was nice to be able to change and shower in the Refugios each night (contrast the next bit of the trip), although Refugio food was distinctly unmemorable.

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Walking highlights here were the beautiful lakeside walks, and the trek to Glacier Grey. Sadly the French Valley (the middle bit of the W) was closed to walkers due to snow. Swoop’s partners were superb – Johana met us (unannounced, which was a lovely surprise) off the bus when we arrived late in Puerto Natales, got us to the hotel safely, and came up with the best packed lunch of our whole trip for the first day’s walking the next morning.

We must also mention the young lady who was waiting to check us back into the hotel when we returned from the park, again late at night. I’d stupidly left our passports, travel documents and lots of cash in the taxi we’d taken from the bus station – she confidently made lots of phone calls, poured us a cold beer, ushered us over the road to eat in the fab restaurant Aldea (highly recommended) just before they closed, and happily the young cab driver bowled up with all our stuff about 15 minutes later.

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Los Glaciares National Park

We transferred to El Calafate, visited the Perito Merino glacier, and had a night in Hosteria La Estepa – very comfortable, lovely welcoming manager Agustino, and a very nice dinner.

Then on to El Chalten; Swoop had put us in contact with a Chalten-based expedition company who organised this bit of our stay. We picked up some rental camping gear, had one night on a self-guided (rather wet) walk, and then went off with our guide Fabio to do the Huemul Circuit. This was just awesome and for me was the very best bit of our trip. The walking was strenuous at times, but we saw some amazing stuff. The trek involves four days of walking with three nights of wild camping – I think we saw no more than four other people during the whole period.

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Highlights – the zip-wire river crossing, the joys of very basic camping food, wonderful scenery, the blow-you-off-your-feet (literally) winds, and the last night camp eating our supper just below the glacier Viedma.

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Again, this partner of Swoop’s was absolutely faultless – a friendly welcome, very helpful in the shop, a great mountain guide, and an upgraded hotel in Chalten. Both agents were responsible for recommending and booking various hotels, bus transfers, taxi pick-ups etc, and everything went totally smoothly – not a single glitch in the plans.

Our trip ended with a stopover in Buenos Aires, where we had some great cocktails (we seem to have developed a Pisco habit), and the biggest steak you’ve ever seen. So top marks to Swoop – always available to respond to questions or with advice during the planning stage, but also happy to leave us to communicate directly with their partners in Patagonia, who (as I’ve said) were both superb.

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I would unhesitatingly use these agents again if we return to Patagonia (there are some other interesting-looking challenges); and we have already been recommending Swoop very highly to friends who are contemplating a trip. Very many thanks. Antarctica, anyone?

Amina’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Amina returned in November from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip, and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘This trip was amazing and beyond my expectations. Patagonia is so beautiful.’

What did you think of Swoop Patagonia?

The first thing I noticed about Swoop Patagonia is how fast you reply. Untypical for me I started planning/booking this trip very late, and your great service helped a lot to make this trip possible for me. You provided me with all the information I needed and connected me to your partners in Chile very quickly.

I am talking about this trip non-stop and recommending everybody to do it. And telling them how great it is, that you offer different trips, and also options for people traveling alone. So, yes I am recommending Swoop Patagonia to friends and family :)

What did you think of our partner in Chile who ran the W Trek?

Your partner who ran the W Trek was great too. There were a few bits of information that I would have preferred to receive earlier (for example that I needed to book a hotel first to buy a bus ticket, or where to meet the group when I arrive in Puerto Natales). But mistakes happen… So, it’s more important to me how do you deal with it. And they were always very polite and very eager and quick to fix these things.

And more important is the hiking trip… Our guides were amazing!!! Soo much knowledge, so funny, always looking out for us, making sure we hydrate and asking how we are feeling an if we need a break, taping my toes to avoid blisters… It was just great!

Just two things that they should mention to travellers before they arrive… There is no cell phone service during this trip and no wifi/internet service. It felt good to be disconnected for a few days. I just wished to know it before, so I would have send my parents and friends a message letting them know to not be concerned if they can’t reach me.

The other thing is that our whole group share one room- boys & girls together. I was surprised, but didn’t mind. I just think some people could feel uncomfortable and should have a chance to know about it before.

What was the highlight of your trip?

I can’t choose one highlight. The whole trip is amazing. The nature is breath-taking. I was lucky to have a great group and we bonded right away and were laughing a lot, and having nice conversations.

All my concerns about going hiking for the first time were unnecessary (I had never been hiking before. Not in Germany. Not in the US). I definitely want to do more hikes and am looking to book a hiking trip abroad next year.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else during your trip?

I visited a friend in Buenos Aires for the first week, did a day-trip to Colonia, Uruguay and another day-trip to Tigre, during that time. Before the trekking-trip, I took a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, where I stayed one night (visited Perito Moreno Glacier), and took the bus to Puerto Natales to start the Patagonia trekking-tour. After the tour I returned back to Buenos Aires and caught a flight back to Boston the following day.

Do you have any tips for other travellers planning a trip?

The only tips I would give people is, pack light, and bring waterproof clothes and shoes.

Isabel’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Isabel returned in November from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she shares with us her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had an amazing time in Patagonia and the W Trek was a great experience!’

How were Swoop Patagonia?

I thought that the service you provided was very good – you were helpful with the information you provided and responded quickly to any queries.  I thought that the handover to your partners in Chile was done very well and smoothly and that you were flexible in how you communicate with your clients. I would recommend you to any friends looking to visit Patagonia.

How were our Partners who ran the trek in Chile?

Our W Trek was well-organised and professional.  In addition to organising the trek itself, the company was helpful in booking us bus tickets to/from Puerto Natales.  I thought that the itinerary on the W Trek was great – a good mixture of longer and shorter days and comfortable refuges to stay in. Our guide (Carlos) was excellent – he spoke good English and was friendly and responsible. The only minor comment I have is that we passed by their office in Puerto Natales the day before our trek started as we had not been told where and what time to meet the next day. An email confirming this would have been helpful.

What was the highlight of your trip?

I’m not sure I’m able to pick out a single highlight – we really enjoyed the whole trip.  We were in a group with three others who we got on very well with – we thought that five was a good number for a group.

Did you visit anywhere else on your trip?

We also visited Buenos Aires, an estancia outside Junin (near BA), El Calafate, the Bariloche area and San Martin de los Andes.

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?

I would recommend that people planning a trip make sure that they bring all the recommended equipment as it all came in handy!  Also do not carry more that you absolutely need to in your backpacks.

[For some tips on what to pack, see Swoop’s Trekking Kit List]